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Doctor Who Review: “Hide”

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The last two Doctor Who episodes were a bit conflicting. While I enjoyed “The Rings of Akhaten” and “Cold War,” there were huge gaps in logic and massive plot conveniences that kept me from loving them, despite the elements that worked. As this week’s episode, “Hide,” was written by “Rings” writer Neil Cross, and that he’d actually written this one first, I was cautiously optimistic that a good, old fashioned ghost story episode would be just what we needed. As it turned out, I didn’t need to be that cautious. “Hide” was a beautiful episode in every category and gave a very sci-fi reason for a very Gothic phenomenon. It employed elements of The Haunting, Evil Dead, and the excellent time travel series Sapphire & Steel, and gave us an episode that was poignant and exciting. There really is nothing like the high you get from watching a good story told well.

A haunted house in the ‘70s with a psychic girl and a middle-aged scientist with gadgetry trying to prove the existence of ghosts? How many horror movies have there been like that? It’s a scene which immediately evokes films like The Legend of Hell House and The Stone Tape, which was written by Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale. In fact, this story had a lot of Quatermass elements in it as well. We immediately get the relationship between the young psychic Emma (Jessica Raine) and the weathered Professor Alec Palmer (Dougray Scott). There’s a lot to be said for economy when introducing the guest cast, and as so much of the story focuses on them and the way they interact, it’s important to get that out of the way as quickly as possible. They were both terrific. I loved the back-story of the professor being a spy in WWII and feeling immense guilt for having sent people to their deaths. It explains his resistance to getting close to Emma, or anyone. Fun fact: Jessica Raine will be playing producer Verity Lambert in the docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time this November. After seeing her in “Hide,” I think she’s an excellent choice.

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The Doctor is also quite the liar in this story, pretending to be from the Ministry to get involved in the ghost hunting (or “busting,” as Clara called it). I love episodes where the Doctor knows what’s going on but doesn’t tell anyone until the time is right. I also miss those episodes where he just saunters in and people believe him, or at least think he’s not a crazy person. He seems to know right away about the ghost and figures out pretty quickly that it’s a caught time traveler. This is very in keeping with the spirit of Doctor Who, which is that there’s always a scientific explanation for the supernatural. And isn’t it just like the show to immediately turn the scary thing into someone who needs help from another scary thing, and then to turn the second scary thing into something else that needs help? It’s pretty ingenious, and quite effective.

There’s some absolutely great stuff going on between the Doctor and Clara in this one. “Hide” was the first episode Jenna-Louise Coleman filmed as Clara (after being Oswin and Victorian Clara), and it’s astonishing how well she understood the character at that early stage. Clara has such a sense of adventure (as in the moment when she tells the Doctor to dare her to go into the dark hallway), but is also very sensitive to things. The exchange regarding the Doctor being cavalier about seeing the Earth being born and dying and not flinching is particularly good. I also like how the TARDIS isn’t taking to her very quickly, or at least being more outwardly snide toward her than to the other companions. This likely has something to do with her being somehow outside time, or messy within it; Remember how the TARDIS reacted to Captain Jack in “Utopia.” With next week’s story being about her lost in the TARDIS, I’d bet some stuff will happen there. At the risk of sounding like a Whimsical Dandy (the term I’ve made up for someone whose tastes change depending on whatever’s newest… use it with your friends), I think Clara might be my favorite new series companion, bar none.

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The direction, by Jamie Payne, a newcomer to the series, is terrific. He gives “Hide” the required creepiness and knows all about contemporary period drama, having directed episodes of Ashes to Ashes and The Hour. Manor houses are inherently creepy, but Payne is able to up this quite a bit. The sudden flashes of either the “ghost” or the “boogeyman” are quite effective and very chilling. I’m especially reminded of a shot where the Professor and Emma are standing at the window and there’s a blink of light and we can see for an instant that the “ghost” is standing right behind them. There’s another of a hallway and a sudden glimpse of the weird thing, called in the credits “The Crooked Man,” though I suppose this one was “The Crooked Lady,” which made me say “Whoa! What the fuck was that?” to the nobody in my house. The alternate universe was also very well realized, it falling apart due to entropy, and the misty forest was sufficiently ominous, doubly so when the creepy whisper-laugh was added.

This episode also had references to old Doctor Who, which made the fanboys-and-girls happy I’m sure. One was the Doctor wondering what became of the hat rack after the TARDIS’ interior changed. He’s always got one, so it must be around there somewhere. The other, more prominent and one that will cause the most controversy, is the need for a blue crystal from Metebelis III. The Third Doctor retrieved a crystal from that planet in “The Green Death” and then had to give it back, the trauma from which ultimately led to his regenerating in “Planet of the Spiders.” Some people I’m sure will complain about him either not having one anymore or needing to go get it again, but probably more people will complain about the way Matt Smith pronounced it. In the ‘70s, Jon Pertwee pronounced it “Meta-BE-lis,” where as Smith pronounced it “Meh-TEH-bel-is.” I’m a huge fan of the series, as we all know, but I hope this isn’t a stick up everybody’s ass. So he said it differently; so what? Tom Baker pronounced the Doctor’s homeworld “Galli-FREE” instead of “Galli-FRAY” and nobody seems to care too much.

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I adored this episode, easily my favorite of this half-series, and possibly for the whole series, but we’ll have to see about that. It had everything I love about Doctor Who and did something different. Sure, the end went a little soft, but it never got stupid or implausible, which is truly commendable. If you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to go watch it again.

 

Next week, “Journey to the Center of the TARDIS” by Stephen Thompson and directed by Mat King. Get excited.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dW3ZJ4Vq5c&w=615&h=346]

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36 comments

  • The monster-love at the end kind of took the wind out of the sails for me. Not that all scary-seeming things are/should be scary, or that we should assume we’re supposed to hate/fear the aliens, but after all that nice Boogeyman build-up we get Romeo?

    It seems like they’ve been NERF-ing DW for the past while–any thoughts?

  • I absolutely loved this episode too and was pleasantly surprised. This series has been shaky at best in my opinion with lots of questionable plots and lazy writing, but this one made me so happy!

  • I feel rather let down by this Season thus far. My husband and I have watched since we were young and have shared the “new who” with our 4 daughters. We all agree that this Season is lacking in direction. If next week (I hope) delves more into the Clara/Oswin Mystery Tour, that would be a good step. Question is, why did it take so long to get there? I think we were all pretty emotionally invested in her as a character and companion after her turn as a Dalek and in the Christmas Episode. Shrug.

  • Has anyone else noticed the successive references to the previous Doctors? Two weeks ago he mentioned his granddaughter, who only appeared with Hartnel, then last week featured an Ice Warrior, most closely associated with Troughton (although also appearing in the Pertwee years), and then the Metebelis III crystal from the Pertwee years. If next week there is a reference to the Tom Baker years, which I suspect there will be as he had a few adventures within the TARDIS itself, you’ll know I’m on to something!

  • Anyone else notice that Clara references the “huge chin” when talking with Emma? Its pretty clear all the Clara incarnations bleed into one another. The Tardis knows something. It made the key for victorian Clara, but doesn’t quite feel comfortable with modern day Clara. Perhaps its because of the eventual Dalek association?
    Can’t wait to watch it all play out! :)

  • really enjoyed this episode.

    Hope they get more into Clara’s story soon, its sort of the elephant in the room at the moment. I’m wondering if they cant fully resolve her mystery until its her time to leave the show though, will she be able to continue as the companion after the Doctor solves the puzzle?

  • Am I the only one that noticed the sound when the Dr was in danger as being a reference to the early shows? I recall hearing that troubled beeping sort of noise before.
    Also, there was a long scarf behind Clara in the hallway a couple episodes ago. Possibly referencing Baker.

  • The cloister bell is what you are referring to anotherfan! It started (I believe) from Baker’s last episode “Logopolis”. Many references this episode. I consider it my favorite of seaon 7. It didn’t have the moffat stamp, it had the DOCTOR WHO stamp.

  • I have to agree with J.M. La–I was a bit disappointed and a bit jarred towards the end where there was the sudden “OH! They are two beings in love!” thing. It almost felt like a less dramatic version of “Just this once, everybody lives!” from The Doctor Dances–“Everybody gets to mate!” (Except Clara and the Doctor, obviously.)

  • I am curious about the title for this episode and its relationship to the story. I did not notice any “hiding” occurring. There was a time traveler running, a monster stalking, a psychic connecting, a professor searching and a Doctor joining each person/critter to its appropriate counterpart. Still, what is hiding? What sticks out to me is the answer the psychic gives the Doctor about Clara, “Shes just a girl.” We know she is not. Perhaps this is where the “hiding” has occurred. Can’t wait for the next few episodes.

  • ^ I might be mis-remembering, but didn’t the Doctor refer to the professor’s assistant as an empathic rather than a psychic? I thought it was purely an emotional attatchment, so if Clara doesn’t know of her own mystery then she would appear to be “just a girl”.

    I think i’m going to re-watch, i might have completely made that up

  • ahh, the phrase was empathic psychic.

    The other thing i found intetesting was the warning to Clara about the Doctor, i think the phrase was that he has a slither of ice in his heart. generally or specifically? A judgement of his personality, one cold heart, one warm heart? specifically about his reasons for befriending Clara? hmmmm

  • Yes, I agree with the warning about the Doctor to Clara. I am excited to find out why the TARDIS is so reluctant to let Clara in as well. Hopefully the next episode will reveal that reason.

  • did anyone else notice during the part when he is in the far is baiting the monster and in one shot he has no bow tie the next shot he has a bow tie then he doesn’t then he does….is it possible that we are seeing two different doctors? just just like in’ the time of angels’ when he stands up to leave amy in the forrest he has no jacket but when he touches amy and tells her to trust him you can see the sleeve of the jacket. we find out later he comes back and you’re actually looking at a future doctor. Two docs one place. I wonder if that is what is going to happen

  • Must apologize! Sent my post while editing. Disregard the wonky ending to my post. bottom line love this episode I think there is a lot of foreshadowing. also screwdrivers acting a little funny is it almost time for an upgrade with the red settings?

  • @Monique, the teaser for next week at the end of this weeks ep looked interesting, the Doctor seemed desperate to get Clara out of the TARDIS, almost like its taken her prisoner. I think next week will be the episode I’ve been waiting for to really get me hooked to this series.

  • I gotta say this was the first episode of Doctor Who that I have watched and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I had always thought getting into the show without watching everything or at least knowing alot of the series history was impossible. I was pleasantly surprised however at how accessible it was. I’m sure I would have gotten more out of it had I seen more of the series but still I was completely able to enjoy this.

    I think I will start trying to watch more of it and hope the positive experience I had with this episode continues.

  • ^ generally each episode tends to work well as a stand alone piece, you can jump in any time and be entertained, but there are long running story arcs and subtle things to pick up on, I’d reccommend catching up from when Clara was first introduced if you can, there are sure to be moments where you may feel a little lost without knowing the back story.

  • Finally watched the new Doctor Who. About half of a great episode. The ending of the story was a bit weak. A smidge better than last week. Still enjoying this season, but it seems that the endings of each episode are rushed, like they were tacked on. Or were heavily edited before airing. I hold great hope for next weeks episode.

  • Really good episode. I, too, am positively smitten with Clara. :)

    I think we are seeing so many references to past Doctor incarnations and stories as a lead-in to the big 50th Anniversary special.

  • I thought “Hide” was great and really brought alot to Series 7 when I think much was missing over the last two episodes. I’ve also decided this series to start watching every episode twice to make sure I’m not missing anything. I got a bit lost during series 6, and well, who doesn’t like rewatching Doctor Who?

    I think I was let down quite a bit by the the last two episodes because the Angels Take Manhattan, The Snowmen and The Bells of St John were incredibly well written and directed. I have to remind myself its nice to actually take in a few aspects of the show that build the character of Clara and this newer Eleventh Doctor..

    Looking forward to next week…..

  • I’m not sure why so many people didn’t like the ending. I get that you may have wanted the monster to stay scary forever, but that’s not really the Doctor Who way. Also, the fact that he figured out they were in love explains two things: Why there was a monster both in the house and in the bubble universe and also why the monster in the bubble universe wanted to cross over. If they would have left these questions unanswered I guarantee people would have complained just as much. All in all the Doctor sees it as his job to help everyone if he can, so he was just doing what he knows and tying it all up with a neat little ribbon.

  • I have to agree with those saying that this series has been a letdown. Going into it, it seemed like things were going to be awesome. The writing had been great, production values are up, Coleman’s acting was refreshing and exciting, and the Clara story is something new for a companion. And yet…very blah so far. The episodes have mostly been a lot of sappy emoting and then a bunch of nothing happening at high speed to deliver unearned plot resolutions that don’t even try to make sense.
    This latest episode was good in comparison, but how good would it be in the context of the previous two series? There was some character development beween the guest stars, which was nice, and the spooky house was shot well. But the story….The Doctor knew what the ghost was seemingly all along and essentially knew it for no reason, which seems to be coming in handy a lot for the writers these days. His trip back and forth through Earth’s life was therefore kind of pointless and redundant from his own viewpoint (or ought to have been), but it did set up what is so far the most important moment since the current series’ regular schedule started. Clara’s horrified moment points out a contradiction in the character of The Doctor that rarely is confronted: If all of time is one and the same to him, how do you care about individual people at all? We don’t hurt for the innumerable children killed during the 100 Years War the way we do for the victims of Sandy Hook. And if all of it and every last individual is ancient history to the Doctor, what does anyone really mean to him? Although I suppose you could also make the opposite argument- that if time is nothing to him, then all lives are equally precious. But that didn’t seem to be his demeanor at the end of Earth’s life cycle.

  • @rachel, You will see the Doctor pick the bow tie up off the ground before he puts it back on. Im still not sure how it came off though, I gotta watch it again. But he did at somepoint drop his tie. Im curious if it was the first time the tardis “Whooshed” him through the “portal”

  • I’ve been disappointed in the last few episodes. They seemed to me like “Filler” episodes in-between something really special/fantastic/blow-your-mind wonderful happening. I do love Clara – she seems to be stealing the show. I’m more fascinated by her than anyone else – and it’s rather hard to upstage Mr. Smith, but she does!
    Does anyone else feel it’s kind or meandering after the great introduction of Oswin with Daleks – and the Christmas episode?

  • i absolutely loved the episode but there’s something i don’t quite get. if time is so much slower in the pocket universe and the doctor was there for as long as he was, shouldn’t it be years in our universe? was there maybe something explained that i missed? anyone?

  • ^ I didnt pick up on that, ermmmm…….time is only relative within the confines of each individual universe? He travelled back via the TARDIS therefore he could return at any point in time he chose? Lazy writing? I really dont know, I can only throw guesswork at you.

    Its making me think of the episode from the Pond era where Amy gets stuck in the faster timestream and gets older. I cant remember the exact details of that though and whether it would apply directly to this situation